At the end of last year, as a church fellowship, we launched “Pray 2020” – which in simplest terms was, and still is, a call to prayer to us as individuals but especially to us corporately as a church body. The goal of Pray 2020 is spiritual growth as we seek to deepen our fellowship with God and with one another; leaning on Him, learning from Him and committing to Him our vision and purpose as a local expression of His church. We do not pray for the sake of prayer alone; or merely with the aim of ticking a box that says we’ve done something good, so that we can feel good about ourselves. Prayer should move us closer to God and motivate us to do other good things – as we endeavour to praise Him, proclaim Him and practice genuine love for our neighbour in our daily lives.
The church elders and I envisaged a year of extra prayer meetings in different settings (albeit mostly in the church building), trying out different prayer styles, with different people and groups leading these meetings. Little did we realise that 2020 would involve weeks or months of social distancing and lockdown and would therefore need to include virtual prayer meetings (to be clear, it has been quite rightly pointed out that the prayer is real; it’s the meetings that are “virtual”). How thankful we are for media platforms and phones that keep us connected. Moreso, how thankful we are for God the Holy Spirit who unites our hearts even when we are scattered!
Today, as I write this, it’s Palm Sunday - the first day of Holy Week (also known as Passion Week). The events of Holy Week are hugely significant for the Christian Community worldwide, especially Good Friday (when Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins), and Easter Sunday (when He rose again, providing eternal hope for all who receive Him as Saviour).
By way of an exercise of prayer and devotion I’d like to suggest that we might each take up the opportunity to refresh our appreciation of the original Holy Week which is recorded for us in each of the Gospels:
Why not take time to pray in response to what the Lord God is saying to us/ you in and through these Bible passages. Allow God’s Word, His grace, truth and sacrifice to minister to your soul. Praise Him. Lift up your thanksgiving. Pray your own prayers, from your heart, acknowledging your own situation and circumstances. Find peace as you rest in the Saviour’s love and faithfulness.
But perhaps also, reflect on the Biblical account of Holy Week, through the lens of this prayer found in Ephesians 3:16-19:
"…pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
As you refresh your appreciation of the events of Holy Week, consider the wonder that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16); that “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8), and that the love God has lavished on us is so great (1 John 3:1).
Let us pray for ourselves and for each other that we will grow deeper in our knowledge and experience of God’s love beyond measure, and that we will ultimately be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.